[MUD-Dev] DESIGN: Why do people like weather in MMORPGs?

John Buehler johnbue at msn.com
Thu Dec 23 16:55:18 CET 2004

Mike Rozak writes:

> Do players just want weather for eye candy? Or do the MMORPGs and
> reviewers use nighttime and weather as a checkbox item in order to
> differentiate themselves. (Just like some sound cards have 20-bit
> sound, as opposed to 16-bit sound. Not to be cynical, but the
> noisy power supply in a computer only provides 13-14 bits of sound
> no matter how good your DAC.)

I believe that the way to approach weather is to look at your
gameplay and decide how you can alter any given element of that
experience by attributing that change to weather.  That, as opposed
to looking at weather and trying to interject its influences.
Historically, those influences are limiting, and that's usually how
games implement the influences of weather.  They limit gameplay.
Dark screens during rainstorms and nighttime is the classic example
of what not to do.

You mentioned tracking in snow.  That's a good use of weather, but
to really apply weather, consider each action, skill, ability,
whatever, that your player can control through their character, and
think of how to vary that with weather excuses.  Vary.  Not impede.

Can characters hide?  Then they can hide behind drifts of snow, in
piles of leaves, grassy plains, sands, etc.  Monsters may be of
particular color schemes exactly so that they can hide (enforced by
the software, not just difficult for the player to see on the

Back to tracking.  Tracking in each season can be a completely
different experience.  That's four variations where only one existed
before.  And as a season non-uniformly changes, players might have
to deal with a mix of tracking techniques.  Each set of distinct
conditions could require a new skill.  Mud Tracking.  Snow Tracking.
Sand Tracking.  And so on.  A character in a desert region would
develop strong sand and rock tracking skills, but have no need for
snow, mud, stream, or grass tracking.  The weather never introduces
those conditions to that desert region.

In short, weather is a rationalization for introducing variety in
the experience of your game.  It is not a point of entertainment
unto itself.  A dark screen as a way of clearly indicating nighttime
is not entertaining to me.  Being unable to get through a mountain
pass because snows block it is not entertaining to me.  On the other
hand, being unable to easily find opponents because it's 'nighttime'
might be an entertaining challenge.  Taking the underground cave
passage through the mountains instead of the snowy pass might be an
entertaining departure from the same old over-the-top trip.

Blacksmithing.  Can blacksmithing be varied in entertaining ways
that relates to the weather?  Or are all ways that the weather could
possibly impact blacksmithing only be a hassle and departure from
the entertainment that blacksmiths seek?  If there isn't a weather
variation that blacksmithing types would enjoy, don't put in any
weather-related variations to blacksmithing.

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